The mountain passes are also known as mountain ghats or just ghats in India. Ghat roads are access routes into the mountainous Western and Eastern Ghats mountain ranges. They are usually very spectacular, as the roads are encompassed by hills on all sides.
To drive in the Ghat roads with such a gorgeous company is truly a thing of joy. Most of these roads date back to the British times. They were built to connect the hill stations of India to the cities.
Also Read : Dangerous Roads In India
Driving in Ghat roads can be very risky, but also are made enjoyable by the scenery. They are prone to accidents, and hence one must exercise extreme caution while driving on the Ghat roads.
The hairpin bends require some getting used to. Always check if the brake, clutch and accelerator are in a mint condition before embarking on a Ghat journey. It is advisable to use the horn around the blind corners to avoid accidents.
Most of these roads pass through forests and it is imperative that one should not disturb the habitat. Here, we have compiled a list of some of the best Ghat roads in India, take a look.
1. Wayanad Pass
Wayanad Pass is along the NH 212 and connects Kozhikode to Wayanad. This ghat pass is often called Wayanad Churam. It begins at Adivaram (Kozhikode) and ends at Lakkidi (Wayanad). There are 9 hairpin bends, through which the ghat roads pass. This drive can send chills down your spine, as the roads are adventurous at best. The ghat road is 12 km and takes about 45 minutes to cover this distance if you are a seasoned traveller on ghat roads. There is a view point at the top, just after the 9th hairpin bend, where you can detour and enjoy the captivating greenery of the hills and the chill weather.
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2. Mahabaleshwar And Panchgani Ghat Roads
Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani in the Sahyadri range are known for the pleasant climate round the year. The Pasarni Ghat, leading to Panchgani from Wai, is a picturesque ghat road known for its silver oak trees and gorgeous greenery. The arrival of Panchgani is marked by a cold breeze kissing your face. Ambenali Ghat Road connects Mahabaleshwar and Poladpur. It is a 40-km-long road on SH 72. The elemental feature of this road is that it takes many turns without gaining or losing much height.
3. Mangalore-Hassan Ghat Road
This ghat road is called Shiradi Ghat. It starts from a small temple on the borders of Dakshina Kannada and Hassan. The ghat section of the Western Ghats through which NH 48 passes is called the Shiradi Ghat. This ghat offers great options for trekking. With Gundya as the base, trekkers can trek to the Venkatagiri, Edakumeri, Arebetta, Aramane Betta and Mugilagiri peaks. It will be a two-day trekking option from Gundya to Aramane Betta.
This road is currently under maintenance, so it is advised to check before you start the journey.
4. Kozhikode - Wayanad Pass - Sulthan Bathery – Mysore
This pass comes under NH 766 from Kozhikode to Mysore. The highway passes through the dense forests of Western Ghats of India. NH 766 is a 272-km stretch that is filled with greenery and ghat roads. Bandipur National Park and other reserve forests are on the way. This road is closed from 9 PM to 6 AM in parts because of the death of wild animals due to the speeding night traffic. One can visit the Jain Temple at Sulthan Bathery, from which it gets its name.
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5. Mumbai-Pune Expressway
This expressway has reduced the travel time from Mumbai to Pune to just 2 hours. Considered to be one the busiest roads in India, it spans a distance of 94.5 km. The ghat section in this Expressway is about 10 km from Khandala to Dehu. Khandala ghat is one the most beautiful roads in India, especially during rain. Bhor Ghat is a mountain passage between Palasdari and Khandala in the Sahyadri range. Rajmachi Gardens near Lonavala is a perfect place to view down the ghat roads and the vista of the Expressway from here is just spectacular.
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6. Honnavar - Jog - Sagar
Honnavar and Sagar are connected by NH 206. The Ghat section is about 25 km. Honnavar is a fishing port on Arabian Sea. The 2-km-long Honnavar road bridge on the way to Murudeshwar is one of the longest bridges in India. The backwaters of Arabian Sea lend a magnificent view to the place. This ghat stretch is prone to heavy rains and therefore only experienced drivers are advised to drive here. Jog Falls is one of the highest plunge waterfalls in India and therefore is a must visit.
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7. Tirupathi To Tirumala
Tirupathi-Tirumala Ghat roads are in the Seshachalam Hills range of Andhra Pradesh. This was designed by the very eminent Sir M. Visveshwaraiah. Old ghat road is used for vehicular movement from Tirumala to Tirupati and the new roads from Tirupati to Tirumala. It has 36 hairpin bends and takes 40 minutes to cover the distance. Tirupati is called the "Spiritual Capital of Andhra Pradesh". The very famous Sri Venkateshwara Devasthanam is located here.
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8. Kadapa Ghat In Nallamala Forest
The Ghat section in Nallamalla forest, belonging to the Rayalaseema region bridges Kadapa city and Rayachoti town. It is a pretty dangerous ghat area and is prone to accidents often. The hills have weathered and corroded over the years, therefore it is not very definitive to travel. The average elevation is about 520 metres in Nallamalla which reaches 1048 metres at Gundla Brahmeswara and 1110 metres at Bharani Konda.
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9. Vishakapatnam - Araku Valley
Araku Valley is a famous hill station in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh. It is 136 km from Vizag and the ghat roads leading to Araku are pretty steep. The first glimpse of the ghat road can be seen after a 1.5-hour drive from Vishakapatnam. The stalactite and stalagmite filled Borra caves are a must visit in the Araku Valley. There is also a tribal museum. There are many view points from where the charming and picturesque valley can be seen and photographed.
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10. Gangtok - Lake Tsomgo via Nathula Pass
Nathula Pass was the place through which the famous Silk Route used to be managed. The roads are not in a great condition. Sometimes they get held up because of snow storms or land slides. A valid protected area permit is required to visit the Nathula Pass. The oxygen level at Nathula Pass is low because of the high altitude, so it is advised that you take necessary precautions like carrying portable oxygen cylinders. Lake Tsomgo is one of the most gorgeous creations of Mother Nature. It is a glacial lake in East Sikkim, 40 km from Gangtok.
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11. Chennai - Munnar
The road trip from Chennai to Munnar goes through Trichy, Dindigul, Theni and Bodi. The ghat roads start from Bodi Mettu and continue till Munnar. There are 18 hairpin bends and they are very narrow too. However, there's an alternate ghat road that one can take. You can drive till Udumalpet and take the road at Chinnakkal. The ghat roads in this route are wider, but this is longer than the Bodi route. Munnar is the name from the confluence of three rivers, viz., Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundali. It is dotted with tea and spice estates.
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12. Bangalore – Ooty
There are two ghat routes to reach Ooty from Bangalore and both are scenic to the hilt. One is Bangalore - Mysore - Nanjangudu - Gundlupet - Bandipur - Mudumalai - Masinagudi - Kalhatti - Ooty. The ghat stretch from Masinagudi to Ooty is a steep drive with 36 hairpin bends over a 30-km stretch. The other route is slightly longer from Bandipur - Gudalur - Naduvattam - Pykara - Ooty. The incline is not too steep on this ghat section, but it is longer by 40 km.
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13. Bangalore – Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal is a beautiful hill station in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu. Referred to as "Princess of Hills", this place is a perfect summer retreat. The route to be taken is Bangalore - Krishnagiri - Salem - Karur - Dindigul - Kodaikanal. The ghat section starts right after Dindigul. The trees form a nice canopy for the 2-lane Kodai Ghat road from Dindigul. You can stop at Dum Dum Rock viewpoint to look at the Thalaiyar Falls and Manjalar Dam. When you spot Silver Cascade Falls to your right, you know that you have reached Kodaikanal.
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14. Neral – Matheran
This is a ghat stretch that is lush green on the Sahyadri range. This is a 7-km road from the bottom of the Matheran Hill Ghat road to the Matheran Dasturi Car Park. Vehicles are prohibited beyond this point, so you will have to park your car here and walk for 40 minutes to reach Matheran Center. The roads are steep and narrow, but are well surfaced for the most part.
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15. Chikmagalur to Mangalore (Charmadi Ghat)
Charmadi Ghat is a ghat on NH 234 in Belthangady in Dhakshina Kannada and extends till Chikmagalur. This ghat has 12 hairpin bends and the roads are very narrow. This ghat section is very deep compared to the other ghats in Karnataka. It receives a rainfall of over 7000 mm during monsoons and it can be quite risky to drive around that time. One can see the alluring Mangalore coastline from the top of the Charmadi Ghat on a clear day. Some of the notable peaks in this section are Jenukallu Gudda, Kodekallu Gudda and Balekallu Gudda. There is also a beautiful waterfall named Bandaje Arbi in Charmadi Ghat.
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